Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at New England Patriots (3-1): The last time the Ravens visited Foxboro, they handed the host team its first home playoff loss in more than 30 years. However, the Ravens have yet to beat New England in a regular-season game, having dropped all five meetings since the team's inception.
The main storyline in New England remains the departure of Randy Moss, who was sent to the Minnesota Vikings for a third-rounder. The Patriots reacquired former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch to take the edge off of losing the NFL's premier field-stretcher, but Branch won't draw the attention from secondaries that Moss does… With a bye in Week 5, New England had an extra week to soak in a game in which it scored a touchdown five different ways – passing, rushing, on a blocked field goal, a blocked punt and a kick return – as the reigning AFC East champs blew out the Miami Dolphins, 41-14.
Baltimore is riding a three-game win streak and sits atop the AFC North… Ray Rice broke out last week against Denver with 133 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, and Joe Flacco has been good the last three games, throwing four touchdowns to one interception. The Ravens' passing attack has potential to be better than it has been this season, and a meeting with the 28th-ranked passing defense in New England could prove that.
Picking against New England at home is almost always a bad decision, but I think Baltimore will put up a lot of offense against the Patriots D and do just enough on the other side of the ball to get to 5-1. My pick: Baltimore, 28-24.
Miami Dolphins (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-2): Miami's ego is hurt. But Green Bay's depth chart is in a world of pain.
It was bad enough losing Al Harris and Ryan Grant, as well has having Charles Woodson not 100 percent through the first stretch of the season, but last week's trip to Washington really tested Green Bay's luck. Aaron Rodgers (concussion), Jermichael Finley (hamstring), Clay Matthews (hamstring), Ryan Pickett (ankle) and three other Packers sustained injuries in the team's 16-13 overtime loss to the Redskins. Finley is out, Pickett is questionable and Matthews is doubtful. The only good news is that Rodgers is probable and will play barring some complications with a neurological test…Green Bay has 16 players on the injury report.
The Dolphins had a much-needed bye last week after the disastrous loss to New England, and they fired their special teams coordinator along the way. Miami coach Tony Sparano has to have his team playing with a chip on its shoulder, and the Dolphins are pretty good on the road. With losses to New England and New York, this matchup is about as much of a must-win game for Miami as a team can have this early in the season.
One key matchup to watch will be Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall against Woodson... The Dolphins running game has not been great with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, so it will be crucial for Chad Henne to have one of his better games against a team that will probably be without one of the better pass rushers in the league.
Green Bay's limitations seem to far outweigh Miami's, but I think having Rodgers makes the difference for the Packers. My pick: Green Bay, 21-17.